Guard against the vice of the wise

We often think of those with developed intellect as wise. We may even see a developed intellect as an indicator, or at least a facilitator, of spiritual advancement. No doubt, a developed intellect can aid in studying books, memorizing quotes, analyzing ideas, grasping concepts and verbalizing thoughts – all of which can aid deep philosophical understanding. However, this is not enough for spiritual advancement.

Gita wisdom states that the intellectual faculty belongs not to the spiritual level, but to the material level, albeit a subtle material one. Like everything material, the intellect can be a double-edged sword; it can take us towards Krishna or away from him. The Bhagavad-gita indicates that a developed intellect is a symptom of the mode of goodness. It also cautions (14.06) that this mode binds intellectuals by inducing in them a sense of intellectual superiority.

They can often expertly justify their views to others, especially those with a lesser intellect. However, despite their expertise, their views don’t necessarily reflect reality because their views arise not from scriptural revelation but from personal speculation. Their developed intellect makes them dependent, even insistent, on such speculation; they dismiss submissive scriptural study as naïve and demeaning. They fail to realize that submissive scriptural study within a faithful tradition can connect them with Krishna, who is the supreme source of all wisdom, including their own. Due to their addiction to speculation and their rejection of tradition, they rarely understand reality holistically.

More detrimentally, by rejecting scriptural traditions, they deny themselves access to the process of devotional service that can liberate them from material attachments. Consequently, despite their lofty speculations, they frequently remain shackled by petty attachments.

Thus, the unwillingness to seek the aid of scripture is the vice of the wise, a vice that prevents their wisdom from leading them to freedom.

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 14 Text 06

“O sinless one, the mode of goodness, being purer than the others, is illuminating, and it frees one from all sinful reactions. Those situated in that mode become conditioned by a sense of happiness and knowledge.”

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Today’s medals will be tomorrow’s baubles
Don’t waste time on the mind’s futile pastime: comparison

Author: Chaitanya Charan Das

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1 Comment

  1. Wonderfully exhaustive explanation of why so many intellectuals do not take to the process of devotional study and devotional service

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